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Forsyth County Planning commissioner's proposal for more transparency fails

November 26, 2013
CUMMING, Ga. — Forsyth County Planning Commission member Dr. Joe Moses says he wants more transparency in government.

At the Nov. 19 planning commission meeting work session, he was the only one to vote in favor of his initiative to require corporations to give the names of all the individuals involved in a rezoning application.

"Ignorance of conflict of interest is not an excuse if you've cross over the line," said Moses, when he first presented the proposed change to the county's zoning code.

"There are instances where this could happen if you don't know who is on a corporation board or if you don't know the major stock holders," he said.

Moses said the affidavit would be helpful to board members in figuring out potential conflicts of interest and it would increase public trust by being more transparent.

Planning commissioners voted 4-1 to deny the request with Moses in favor.

Although the issue failed, Forsyth County Commissioner Jim Boff said last week that he, with support from Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills, would take up the discussion at their Dec. 10 work session.

County commissioners have the ability to change zoning code.

At the planning commission meeting, Alan Neal said applicants could be third parties and the proposal does not achieve anything but create unnecessary burden on staff.

County Attorney Ken Jarrard said, if approved, the process would look similar to "a certificate of interested persons," which is typically filed in federal court.

"Whenever you have federal court litigation you have to identify everyone who has any potential interest in litigation and it's for the federal judges to know if they need to recuse themselves or not," Jarrard said.

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